The story of Jack Rodwell reminds me of so many other stories of talented young English players in the Premier League.
They all seem to have the same plot: player performs well for his club, getting regular game time, progressing well. Touted as next big thing for English football, linked with move to bigger club.
Big club makes an approach, player forces through big money move.
Fast forward two years: player struggling to compete with myriad of imported talent, has failed to progress, desperately seeking an escape, even if it means dropping below previous standard.
The outcome - the player has taken a backwards step in their career.
Lack of opportunities
How many English players have moved to the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea or even Manchestr United in recent years and actually thrived? Gary Cahill is probably one exception, and I suppose Michael Carrick, although that was a while ago now. James Milner has been steady, but has failed to produce the scintillating form he showed in his peak at Aston Villa.
The truth is that clubs are not interested in improving these young Englishmen - why would they when they can go to Europe and purchase the ready-made product for just a few million pounds (which, for these mega-rich clubs, is a pittance).
Home-grown player quota
These clubs are merely purchasing British players in order to adhere to the Premier League's home-grown player quota. Although in theory this should mean players produced in England are more likely to get game time for bigger clubs, the reality is quite the opposite.
Players like Scott Sinclair and Rodwell were not brought into City to compete, merely to help them meet the regulations. They don't care that they are sitting on the bench, they just had to meet the quotas.
A dearth of talent?
You could argue, then, that it is just that there is a lack of top quality players being produced by British clubs.
I think that is nonsense. Admittedly a number of English players are overpriced and overrated (to me £27million for Luke Shaw was absolutely ludicrous), but that does not mean that they are all not good enough.
Rodwell, for example, was selected for England. He has struggled for injuries but, if City had shown more patience and coaching nous, they could have helped Rodwell to develop into a top class player.
But they do not have that time. Premier League clubs now demand instant success and a manager could be out of a job within a year, so why should he bother worrying about someone for the future who will require a lot of work and patience?
There is not one person or body to blame for this, but it is causing great problems in English football. Clubs must be more willing to give managers time, who in turn need to give players more time to develop and establish themselves rather than give up on someone after one or two seasons of barely playing.
The Premier League must be more stringent with their rule setting - perhaps a certain number of British players in the match day squad would help. And, finally, players must be more willing to turn down big money offers and continue to flourish at their present club.
The most heartwarming news I heard all week was that Ross Barkley had signed a contract extension at Everton. I suspect in a few years time we'll be talking about what could have been with Rodwell, in contrast to what did become of Ross Barkley, so long as his loyalty remains.
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